Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND
FDR Sat 8.05pm BBC2 Court TV Sat 11.30pm BBC2 Princess to Queen Sun 4.10pm BBC1 Happy Birthday Ma'am Sun 6pm ITV A History of British Art Sun 7.30pm BBC2 Encounters Sun 8pmC4
Meanwhile, that experienced old courtier the BBC has produced the respectful and gently moving Princess to Queen (Sun BBC1). This benefits from the voice-over of Ludovic Kennedy - his words always seem to catch on his throat - and from being sharply focused on Ma'am's upbringing and young adulthood. Thus both those troublesome children are neatly erased, and we are reminded of the human being that went into making the monarch. There's plenty of unfamiliar footage, including HM beamingly in lurve with a Greek sailor. Apparently the future Queen decided Philip was The One after witnessing him perform in the gymnasium of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. She was 13 at the time.
Maybe there's something to be said for marrying your cousin. Franklin D. Roosevelt did. In the particular case of this quietly ambitious young man, it must have helped that the orphaned Eleanor Roosevelt was the favourite niece of the then President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt that "steam train in trousers", as he was memorably described. All this courtesy of FDR (Sat BBC2), a handsome new four-part documentary series about the man who was to be elected President four times.
I had noticed that our chief art critic, Andrew Graham-Dixon, hasn't been hanging round the Independent office of late, and now I know why. He's been hanging round art galleries, museums and country churches making the sterling A History of British Art (Sun BBC2). Like Kenneth Clark, Graham-Dixon exercises a whole wardrobe full of suits - and in the clarity of his vision and the coherent way he meshes the whole island story together, he's going to give the old boy a run for his Monet.
The story of British art really begins at the Reformation - because reformationists smashed every piece of religious decoration (which was the art of the Middle Ages) they could take their hammers to. If you think Damien Hirst is an iconoclast, then you don't know the proper meaning of the word.
Watched non-stop, a 24-hour cable station showing nothing but legal trials would do strange things to the mind. People wouldn't be able to ask you the time of day, for example, without you huddling in a conference with your lawyer. But condensed into weekly chunks, Court TV (Sat BBC2) is fascinating viewing, throwing up all sorts of issues which are usually obscured in our somewhat tabloid perspective on crime and punishment. This week, former Manson "family" member Patricia Krenwinkel comes up before the parole board. Objecting to parole is Sharon Tate's younger sister, Patricia. Equally gripping is Encounters (C4 Sun), which documents the medical response to last year's Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire, the deadliest bug known to man. And I thought The Shane Richie Experience had that honour.
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